Express Train Service to Grow


By Fifi Rhodes Windhoek TransNamib is currently concluding agreements with the Chinese government to buy more fuel tankers and locomotives to strengthen its rail services. This was said by John Shaetonhodi, chief executive officer of TransNamib Holdings last week during an excursion trip onboard Namibia’s luxury rail express train, the Omugulugwombashe Star. Shaetonhodi said with the increase of tourists in the country, his company is looking into offering a complete menu to the hospitality industry so that visitors can at the same time experience the country’s air, road and rail service while on holiday. He said although the agreement was still at its infant stage, he was hopeful it would all work as planned. Plans to acquire three more luxury trains in the future are also on the working agenda of the company. TransNamib Holdings is entertaining various stakeholders in the hospitality industry on board the Omu-gulugwombashe Star to lobby them to include a trip on the Omugulugwombashe Star on the agenda of their clients so as to ease the congestion on the country’s roads. One of the first moves of TransNamib in the near future will be to introduce an express train service to Hosea Kutako International Airport this year. “We first want to construct an airport station and a branch line from the main line to the airport station. As cost is of great importance and the tourism industry already has experience of one of our products – the Desert Express – we are at an advanced stage to design trips where we can deliver quality service to our customers.” “Although TransNamib has been in the transport business for many years where we operated mixed trains and moved goods for our customers, the time has come to move passengers continuously on our newly-acquired luxury train,” he said. Shaetonhodi thinks that somehow the state can subsidise the company for moving passengers to ease pressure on the roads, but said that needed a roundtable discussion with Government. At the moment, Shaetonho-di said, the main aim is to operate the Omugulugwombashe Star between Windhoek and Ondangwa where the bulk of the transport needs lie. For that, the company needs an extra wagon for baggage. For now, the Omugulug-wombashe Star only has three wagons for passengers. With an increase of travellers and more baggage, an extra wagon is needed for the luggage. Some of the passengers on the train also suggest that TransNamib should rather use the Omugulugwombashe Star on other routes such as between Windhoek and Rehoboth. “The train, for now, is the right solution for the backpacker market,” one of the passengers, who didn’t want to be named, said.